PROTECT study to continue improving understanding of COVID-19 virus transmission into 2023
It has been announced today (24 Jan 2022) that the PROTECT COVID-19 National Core Study on transmission and environment will continue for another year, taking the programme up until March 2023.
Extra money has been allocated to the programme that will enable researchers across its 19 government and academic partner institutions to continue to improve our understanding of how the COVID-19 virus is transmitted, responding dynamically to the new questions and challenges posed by the ever-changing ‘on the ground’ situation of the pandemic.
This extension will also help ensure the knowledge, research methods and networks created by PROTECT are preserved to improve both the UK’s preparedness for future pandemics, and our ability to manage other endemic respiratory diseases.
The PROTECT programme currently supports almost 40 research projects across six themes and a diverse range of scientific disciplines, including microbiology, epidemiology, building science, behavioural science and mathematical modelling. The latest projects to get underway include:
- a behavioural study investigating why and how people do or don’t use face coverings effectively in retail consulting environments;
- a study that uses wearable technology to understand how much contact people have with each other in the workplace;
- a study using the cutting-edge laser technology at the Diamond Light Source facility to examine in minute detail how the COVID-19 virus is transmitted in respirated particles.
Professor Andrew Curran, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Health and Safety Executive and PROTECT study lead, said: “I am delighted that we are able to continue the PROTECT study for another year, during which we will work to secure its legacy. Since October 2020, the programme has played an important role in informing the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as by affirming the critical importance of good ventilation as a virus control measure.
“I am immensely proud that over the past year and a half our researchers have made such important progress in improving the UK’s capacity to understand and respond to both pandemic and endemic respiratory diseases, acting in a responsive way as new challenges emerged. Looking forwards, it is vital that this progress is not wasted. The knowledge, methods and collaborations established must be preserved and harnessed, such that when the next pandemic comes, we are not starting with a blank piece of paper.”
Sir Patrick Vallance, UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor, who established the COVID-19 National Core Studies programme of which PROTECT is a part, said: “The National Core Studies have been a crucial programme for the production and coordination of research needed to answer key strategic, policy and operational questions throughout the pandemic. I welcome the news that the PROTECT study can continue its important work to produce scientific insights into the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the interplay of the virus, environment, and human behaviour.”
To help ensure the programme continues to provide relevant insights to help navigate the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, PROTECT is inviting stakeholders including government representatives, businesses, workers, unions and members of the public, to tell us what they need to know about transmission of the virus.
Answers will be collated and published on the PROTECT website, as well as informing the commissioning of further research and translational resources where necessary.